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Far Rockaway squatters arrested and charged with multiple crimes in deed fraud scheme: DA

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A mother and son from New Jersey were charged with burglary, grand larceny and other crimes for assuming a prior occupant’s identity in order to obtain false title papers and take possession of a Far Rockaway home, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Tanya M. Howard, 47, and her son Trevon Howard, 26, both of Jersey City, were arraigned before Queens Criminal Court Judge Jeffrey Gershuny on Thursday, Oct. 14, on a seven-count complaint charging them in a deed fraud and squatting scheme after the pair allegedly occupied a home on several occasions through last month, despite the rightful owners’ attempts to get them out.

According to the charges, on several occasions last month, the defendants allegedly forced their way into a house on Beach 15th Street near New Haven Avenue in Far Rockaway. The home already had two tenants who were renting from the legitimate owners. As alleged, the mother claimed to own the two-story brick house.

The Howards moved in with their belongings and appliances and took control of several rooms on the first floor of the home. The renters, including an elderly and disabled person, were cut off from using parts of the house, including the kitchen and bathrooms, prosecutors said.

On Sept. 18, the victims, a man and his mother who are the actual owners of the property, discovered the Howards and a third individual inside the house and contacted the police to remove them. When law enforcement arrived, Tanya Howard refused to vacate the premises and continued to insist she was the rightful owner of the house.

After they were placed under arrest, the Howards allegedly returned to the home and barged inside again refusing to cede occupancy.

Katz said that on Sept. 2, Tanya M. Howard exploited the similarity between her name and that of the prior owner, Tanya L. Howard, and allegedly filed for a new title in both her and her son’s name with the Department of Finance Business Center in Queens. The true owner of the property purchased the house from Tanya L. Howard in 2019 for $500,000.

On Sept. 29, the male homeowner discovered the defendants Tanya M. Howard, and her son Trevon Howard and a teenager inside the house again. He called the NYPD and the pair were once again arrested.

“As alleged, the defendants, in this case, became tenacious squatters who repeatedly forced their way into a house they did not own and obtained a false deed to steal the property from the rightful owners,” Katz said.

Judge Gershuny ordered the defendants to return to court on Dec. 16. If convicted, Tanya and Trevon Howard each face up to 15 years in prison.

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